Thanks so much for the great response to this blog!
A special thank you to those who have passed it on to others. We are heading quickly to amazing page visits to this blog! Welcome to folks from all over the country and other countries as well, including Lisbon!!

The "Village", as it was called, is located in the northwest corner of the city of Taunton, Massachusetts U.S.A. It covers about 1 square mile with the center being School Street. A large portion of the Village population was Portuguese when I was growing up.

This blog covers a lot of the history of the Village, much to do with my years as a child there: 1940 through the late 1950's. I do have many wonderful photos and information prior to that that and will share those as well. Always looking for MORE PHOTOS AND MORE STORIES TO TELL.

If you would like to send photos or share a memory of growing up in the Village
e-mail me at
feel free to comment on the posts. Directions are on the right side of the blog posts. Jump in, the water is fine and it is easy!!!

I will be posting photographs but not identifying individuals unless I have permission or they are a matter of public record. It you wish to give me permission, please let me know.

I am looking for any and all photos of the Village...

Please note: the way blogs work is that the latest post is first. It you would like to start from the beginning of the blog, check out the post labels on the right of the blog and go from there. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dreamtime in Sao Miguel

Look at this Flickr photo from the Internet.  Doesn't it make you think of Middle Earth in the Hobbit or a landscape out of Lord of the Rings?  Breathtaking beauty with a touch of the mystic. This is from the island of Sao Miguel, Azores,  but I know not the location. I can only say that it is a place from where dreams must come.  This was where my grandmother dreamed of a new life.  
No wonder their hearts always missed it...

photo by Eduardo Manchon:Internet.

Sao Miquel is about 800 miles from the Portuguese mainland, and the largest of the Azorean islands, part of the eastern group made up of it and Santa Maria.  Sao Miguel is 40 miles north of her nearest neighbor island Santa Maria.  The total land mass of all of the Azorean islands: the Eastern, the  Central made up of Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pica and Faiil, and the western group of Flores and 
Corvo is 908 square miles.

 To get a better grasp on its size: this is smaller than the state of Rhode Island which is approx. 1,000 sq miles, or the size of Yosemite National Park in the U.S. 
or the Houston Bus system in Texas...

Virtually no flat land exists on these islands.  The coastal cliffs rise several hundred feet.  Lower coastlines provide coves for harbors (and pirates).  The waters are deep offshore, nearly one to two miles deep in some places.  Due to their  volcanic composition, there have been horrific earthquakes over the centuries,  There are seasonal cyclones and sometimes drought caused by the dust fallouts from winds from the African sahara.  Herein lies the secret of why dreams of leaving for another
 world came to pass.

You can read about the Azores, each one, on the Internet so I will not dwell on the subject long.
There are some interesting facts, though, to consider.

One is that because of the location of these islands, smack in the middle of the Atlantic, there has been considerable scientific genetic interest. If you are interested in pursuing this go to
There is a veritable genetic soup in the Azores: in bloodlines and in cultures.

Around the year 1400 many Flemish people came to the Azores and played an important role in the development of Azorean culture.  Flemish windmills and ox carts are still seen on the islands and many Azoreans have light hair and complexion as well as blue eyes.  

The genetic study cited above indicate that there is a large Middle Eastern component in bloodlines, not surprising since the Moors dominated the Azores, Madeira and Portugal for so long. Also, components of French, Sri Lanken, Bosnian, Herzogovnian and European,  Too complicated, you may fall asleep reading that study but the point has been made.

My grandmother. Isobel Bento Correia came from Aqua da Alto in Sao Miquel.  She was fair skinned with light brown hair as was my mother and Uncle.  As you can see from this Internet photo, it is a village hugging the coastline.

This is my maternal great-grandmother Anna Jesus D' Oliveira Bento Correia 
who was born in Aqua d'Alto in 1862.  It is the only photo of a great grandparent that we possess.
 She was made a widow at a young age and brought up her family of ten children there. Not all lived to adulthood.  Most of them left for the Unites States and Bermuda when they could. Only two remaained in Aqua d'Alto,  At the age of 60 she immigrated to the United States to join
her daughters in the Taunton area.  One of those daughters, herself a young widow, would remarry and settle right next to Jigger's variety in the Village.

My maternal great grandmother Anna  died at the age of 87.  Here is hoping we inherited those genes.

photo from our family archives

Life was harsh for the mostly poor folk of the Island, despite the beauty that surrounded them.
Isobel, my grandmother, spoke of a strict but loving household.  She helped the family by
picking beans and grapes for $.30 an hour and helped with the children at home.

Many have remarked on the hard working character of the Azoreans when they come to the U.S.  Their pride of place seen in their well kept homes and yards, their ambition and willingness to assimilate into the wider culture into which they inserted themselves and their families.  Hardship builds character and this applies to these Islanders.  Facing earthquakes, drought and cyclone they learned the hard way.

My great grandmother left two sons in Aqua d'Alto,
One of them opened a bar which, we think, is still there.
Anyone ever been there?

Photo from Gilbert

I spoke of the Bermuda connection.  As part of a sort of tenant farmer arrangement, those leaving from the Azores often resettled on the beautiful island of Bermuda, off the coast of the United States.
This happened with some of my maternal relatives. They eventually married, owned their
 properties raising their own families who in turn would either stay or resettle themselves.
Indeed, at least one of them has elected to return to the Island of Sao Miguel.
Circles upon circles.

Sao Miguel is surely no longer the Island it was in 1915 when my
Grandmother Isobel  came to America.

Although ....this is a photo titled Milk Delivery in Aqua d'Alto
taken by cousin Gilbert in 1993.

Next: the diaspora and what they found,
resettling in the School Street Village.
We come full circle, too.


  1. My paternal grandparents were married in this church in Agua d'Alto. It's also the same church my father was baptized in. The family had returned in 1914 to build a house for his ailing parents and that's when my father was born. The house is right on the main road leading into town and is still there though much remodeled. David Perry

  2. I am so happy that you shared this! Such a precious thing to know and see right here.
    The pleasures of writing this blog is more and more enjoyable...a lot of work but worth every single minute.

  3. My parents were from St. Michael. Villa Franca.. Thank you !! Mello family